One of the great places to observe Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and Anhinga mating and nesting is at the Venice Rookery in Venice Florida. I hadn’t been there yet this season but as a friend and I were going up to Sarasota FL today to enter a competition held by the Sarasota Camera Club it seemed like a good time to stop and have a look.
WOW, what a change. I had heard that they had a program to remove all of the Brazilian Pepper bushes around the pond but was amazed at how much vegetation had actually been removed. What was once a nice woodland background for Bird In Flight (BIF) shots was now the backend of a trailer park and a public office building. Here are before and after shots of the rookery island. They aren’t taken from the same position but, there is only the one rookery island in the pond.
But, all is not lost. The rookery island itself still provides a decent background and you can still get BIF shots if you watch the angle you are shooting. Unfortunately, the bushes that make up the nesting site seem to be primarily Brazilian Pepper. I don’t know what will happen if they decide to clear that. You can see all the little pepper berries in this shot of a Great Blue Heron tending it’s nest.
With a little care, it’s still a great place to shoot and you can always count on activity. Today was pretty heavily overcast so the skies weren’t much to talk about but, there was plenty of heron activity. here are a few more shots. Just click to see larger versions.
The scenics were shot with the 24-85mm f2.8-f4.0 Nikkor and the birds with the 70-300mm VR lens.
Beautiful shots!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.
Your magnificent post is right on time for me. Suzanne and I are heading to Sarasota for a week next month. The Venice Rookery is now high on the list of things to see. Your captures are the stuff of dreams especially enlarged. My computer monitor is a 42″ flatscreen and your herons jump off the screen. Bravo! ;-)WBW
It’s a great place right now. I don’t know where you are planning on shooting but, by blog is pretty much centered around the Punta Gorda area about an hour south of Sarasota. There is a newish place called the Celery Fields which I am hearing good reports about for Sandhill Cranes. If you want to travel a bit more try the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland for morning pelicans. I have another post on a trip we made there. It’s great for dawn shoots.
Thanks for the information. We’ll be down the 9th-15th. I’ll check into the celery fields. Yes, I will be exploring your blog for more cool stuff!
Such a shame when people get carried away with ‘tidying’ like that.
At least they left the island alone for the Herons.
It’s not quite as simple as ‘tidying’. The Brazilian pepper is an attractive plant and a lot of northerns planted it as a plant with decorative berries, much like the northern holly tree. Unfortunately, those berries are very attractive to some birds and the seeds get spread far and wide. Our climate is such that they thrive and replace the native plants that so many of our native species need for their survival. It grows almost continually and is one of those weeds that just needs killing. The last time I looked there were more than 700,000 acres in florida which are lost to the brazilian pepper. It grows over our native palms and other plants and kills them. I miss the view, but not the pepper plants.
If you enlarge post clearing picture you will see the black tubs on the far shore. Those are native Oak trees. They will be getting planted soon and in a few years, we’ll have a nice shady place to sit and watch the island.
Great photos of the birds. It’s too bad when we import plants from somewhere else without knowing what will happen in their new environment. It’s good to hear that there is replanting planned for the future – and with native species!
I hope they will continue by replanting native species? Im sure the birds miss it very much the extra cover and protection it provided. Wonderful series of photos!!
Love those herons. We have a rookery about 20 miles from here, and I’m looking forward lots of pictures this Spring.
Great shots. I got my first up close look of a Great Blue last week in the Space Coast area.
Great shots of the heron courtship display. It seems to be that time of year as I observed courtship behavior here on the other side of the continent.
What a great place to be able to see all that at once.
I love the shots, particularly the first one of the two herons confronting each other. Re invasive plants, same problem here with Purple Loosestrife which is taking over the wetlands in many areas. A pretty plant but it displaces native flora and fauna.
Wonderful photos of one of my favorite birds!